[Updated August 12, 2021] In a region wrought with spectacular waterfalls, no place has as many as Transylvania County, North Carolina. Encompassing 381 square miles, the area is home to some 250 waterfalls.
The county seat of Transylvania is the tiny mountain town of Brevard, North Carolina, which has a population of less than 10,000 residents.
With a smattering of historic charm and all the creature comforts of contemporary times, it’s an ideal space to serve as a waterfall exploration hub.
Brevard is perfectly positioned just a few miles between the entrances to Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Recreational Forest.
Just a little further afield, Gorges State Park, the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer more great gateways into nature.
In other words, it’s a very tough job to narrow the Top 10 waterfalls near Brevard NC, but that’s precisely what we’ve done.
These cascades are all top-of-the-line in a place with an extremely wide selection from which to choose…
Love North Carolina Waterfalls? Check out these guides!
Bridal Veil Falls
One of several star-studded waterfalls in Dupont State Recreational Forest, Bridal Veil Falls sometimes gets skipped because it isn’t on the park’s unofficial waterfall hike.
But Friends of the Dupont Forest calls Bridal Veil– one of four great waterfalls along the Little River– “the most interesting in the park.”
It takes an extra couple of miles of hiking to reach the waterfall from the High Falls Access Point, or a good three-plus mile hike from the Fawn Lake Access Point.
Either way, hikes to Bridal Veil Falls can also include walks along several of the beautiful mountain lakes in Dupont State Forest.
The 120-foot waterfall dives off of a short, overhanging ledge, crashes onto a granite rockface, and slides down in a rush of whitewater before plunging into a pool.
It is the first of the falls on Little River, and was famously featured in the film The Last of the Mohicans.
Daniel Ridge Falls
One of many wonderful Pisgah National Forest waterfalls, Daniel Ridge Falls (which is sometimes called Tom’s Spring Falls or Jackson Falls) requires just a short, half-mile hike to see.
It can be reached via the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, and is close to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, which includes the State Fish Hatchery.
From the small parking area, the waterfall can be accessed via the Daniel Ridge Loop Trail, which crosses and follows the Davidson River en route.
To see the falls, visitors can do a one-mile out-and-back trek or take the entire loop– a four-mile adventure that also includes a fantastic view from atop the falls.
Daniel Ridge Falls is 150 feet high, and it is particularly cool after a good rain, when the tiny stream generally picks up some extra volume. Luckily, it’s located in a temperate rainforest!
French Broad Falls
Technically speaking, a visit to French Broad Falls also includes a gander at Mill Shoals, a.k.a. Shoal Creek Falls.
Located along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, French Broad Falls sits on private property (Living Water, a religious retreat), but it is open to the public.
French Broad Falls and Shoal Creek Falls are twin waterfalls, sitting side-by-side at the convergence where the French Broad River absorbs Shoal Creek.
Neither has a noteworthy drop (both stand around 15 feet tall), but they are wide and impressive, particularly after a solid rain.
The hike to French Broad Falls is very short, so it would be a shame not to press on for another 1/4-mile along the trail to add Cathedral Falls (which is also a 15-footer) for a sweet trifecta.
As its name would seem to suggest, High Falls is the tallest of the waterfalls on the Little River in Dupont State Recreational Forest.
Measuring 150 feet, the waterfall is very easy to reach from the High Falls Access Point, which is also where the forest’s Visitors Center is located.
Incredible views of the falls are bountiful. You can get great shots from the picnic shelter that overlooks them, from the High Falls Trail, and from the rock pools right at the base of the falls.
Just uphill from the top of the falls is a wonderful covered bridge that’s great for views of the Little River. A 1/2-mile downriver (along the High Falls Trail), Triple Falls is set to wow yet again.
This particular duo of waterfalls is awesome enough to inspire Hollywood directors to film in Dupont State Forest on more than one occasion (Last of the Mohicans, The Hunger Games, etc).
Fed by an unnamed tributary of the French Broad, Key Falls is a 50-foot cascade that trickles down several rock ledges before joining the river less than half a mile downstream.
The waterfall is located on private property (at the Key Falls Inn), but is open to the public. The falls are actually visible from Seven Springs Road, but visitors can also park at the Inn and walk to them as well.
While Key Falls isn’t the tallest or most voluminous of the waterfalls in Brevard, its beauty—including rock ledges lined with rhododendrons and other wildflowers— rivals any on this list.
It’s an easy, quick stop between the waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest and the falls in Dupont State Forest, so why not take a minute to see another stunner?
Looking Glass Falls
In terms of ROI, this waterfall is perhaps the biggest attraction on this list.
It’s visible from US-276 on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, which cuts right through Pisgah National Forest.
Looking Glass Falls has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from the big waterfalls– height, volume of water, massive rock faces. But it doesn’t require any hiking whatsoever.
On one hand, this is a fantastic waterfall for quickly checking off the list and getting on with the day. On the other hand, it can be very crowded at peak times as a result.
Nevertheless, standing at 60 feet, Looking Glass Falls is an amazing sight to see, and it is very near to Sliding Rock and the DuPont Forest waterfalls.
Moore Cove Falls
Located just 1.6 miles north of Looking Glass Falls along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, Moore Cove Falls is another natural wonder in Pisgah National Forest.
There are no big signs leading to it, but it’s on the information board in the parking lot.
Moore Cove Falls is 50 feet high, with a wispy veil of water spilling over a rocky outcrop, then splashing down onto stone below before trickling into a pool.
It’s got the amazing setting— stone, forest, sunshine leaking through— as well as the bonus of being able to walk behind the plunging water.
The hike to Moore Cove Falls is less than a mile, with no significant slopes or challenges. So it’s great for easy strolls or family outings.
Visiting Rainbow Falls through Gorges State Park inevitably involves seeing at least one, and possibly two other waterfalls.
But Rainbow Falls, which is actually located in the adjoining Nantahala National Forest, steals the show. It’s a skyscraper, stretching about 150 feet tall, and seemingly dumps an ocean of water down a steep rock face.
As its name would seem to suggest, the mist spraying out from the waterfall’s cascades produces a rainbow effect on sunny days. One of the many wonderful aspects of visiting Rainbow Falls is that there are views from just about every perspective.
While you’re there, it would be foolish not to visit Turtleback Falls (a 1/4-mile upstream) and Hidden Falls (a 1/4-mile downstream.
The hike to Rainbow Falls is about 3 miles out-and-back, and the trailhead can be found at the Grassy Ridge Parking Area in Gorges State Park.
Sliding Rock Falls
Sliding Rock Falls warrants a visit as much for the sheer fun of it as for the stunning natural beauty. Aside from being a waterfall, this is a 60-foot-long natural water slide that culminates in a deep pool.
Visitors can slide down the falls on their backsides or on floatation devices, either brought in or rented on-site.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, Sliding Rock is operated by Adventure Pisgah, which staffs it with lifeguards and opens up the bathrooms. From Labor Day through the end of October, Adventure Pisgah operates only on the weekends.
There’s a $4.00 usage fee for the day when AP’s services are in operation. Regardless, Sliding Rock Falls is open to visitors 365 days a year.
Sliding Rock Falls is located within a couple of miles of Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls.
Possibly the most spectacular waterfall near Brevard is Triple Falls, which is located on the High Falls Trail in DuPont State Recreational Forest.
The waterfall comes down in three large plunges, each staggering from the previous, such that the trio measures some 120 feet tall in all.
Triple Falls is located between High Falls (which is less than a mile upstream) and Hooker Falls (which is less than a mile downstream), and it can be accessed from either of their respective parking areas.
When the weather isn’t icy, it’s possible to walk out on the rock ledges of Triple Falls for a closer look. But note that it can get very slippery and swimming here is prohibited.
There’s something about this majestic waterfall cutting through the trees, pushing up into the sky, that makes it seem just about as grand as they come. —Jonathon Engels; lead photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett